Keep on the Shadowfell Campaign – session 5
Having rested our heroes descend into tunnels beneath the ruined keep. Unfortunately the goblins that escaped (last session) had warned those below and a pair of goblin crossbow wielders awaited in the chamber below, using the stone pillars as cover. Rocky (the Goliath Battlemind) skirted the edge of the room to charge into one of the annoying creatures, noticing as he did so that more awaited in the side corridors. Shabba (the Elf Rogue) nimbly danced between the pillars as he fired thunderous arrows back at the hiding goblins with his screaming bow. Nadarr (the Dragonborn Elementalist) tried to fry the hapless creatures with his pyromancy, only to be used a pincushion for his troubles. As Korinn (the Dragonborn Paladin) moved to support her allies, Bron (the human cleric) charged forward swinging his mailed fists – until the centre of the floor gave way below him and dropped him into a pit, much to the mirth of the goblins, but the annoyance of the swarm of rats already in residence!
With reinforcements arriving to bolster the goblins the heroes took their diminutive foes more seriously (though had to laugh as one charged the cleric and tried to push him back into the pit he had just climbed out of! Nadarr blanketed parts of the chamber in flames, taking out some of the goblins and frying numerous rats. Seeing the turn of the tide a goblin decided to flee down an eastward corridor, disappearing through a door. Shabba took aim on the final few rats, holding his shot until they were all rushing forward to once again chew on Bron, and neatly skewered the last of the vermin. The shot carrying their verminous little corpses to thud into the door the goblin had fled through. Investigating the door they found the corridor beyond led down a flight of stairs, to prevent the goblins return (hopefully) Shabba used his larcenous skills to rig the doors lock and make the door particularly difficult to re-open.
The party tended their minor wounds and examined the opposite corridor, finding it led to another chamber with a trio of closed doors leading from it. With no sign of more enemies they checked where the goblin warriors had come from, discovering a stockpile of barrels and crates (full of salted fish and supplies, much more than a handful of goblins would need), and a pair of rickety bunk beds the goblins had been using. As they were about to disregard the lice-ridden bedding Bron spotted a glint and further investigation revealed the goblins stash of coins. Rocky and Shabba examined the large double doors leading from the room.
Shabba could hear faint shuffling sounds as if someone (or several someone’s) were dragging their feet. Opening the doors carefully they found another short staircase leading into unlit tunnels. Using Korinn’s glowing Sunblade they cautiously advanced. The tunnels looked like they had been left alone for some time but the heroes came across a curious symbol inscribed at several points on the stone floors.
Nadarr and Bron examined them and discovered they were some kind of magical alarm set to alert the tunnels inhabitants of intruders. The heroes chose to avoid them and turned south towards the sounds of the shuffling. Discovering a handful of zombies in various states of decay. Nadarr took out several with his fiery conjurations but a pair proved more resilient, until Rocky and Korinn put them down with their weapons.
Shabba, Bron and Nadarr heard the approach of more shambling undead from the north-west but between another display of pyrotechnics and pinpoint accurate archery they posed no threat to the heroes. Regrouping they chose to explore the chamber beyond the room they encountered the zombies in.
The chamber resembled a church crypt, complete with granite sarcophagi lining the walls with bas reliefs of armoured warriors on the front. Examining one more closely, draconic runes were discovered, naming the occupants as knights fallen in the service of the Platinum Dragon. The far end of the chamber appeared to be lit by a radiance eminating from the ceiling, Rocky and Korinn led the way to investigate. As they passed the middle pair of sarcophagi the lids all banged open as their skeletal occupants burst forth to engage the intruders.
Nadarr once again lays down a blanket of fire in an effort to keep the skeletons at bay while Rocky and Korinn faced off against a pair of skeletons wielding longswords and shields. The skeletons held back by the dragonborn’s flames calmly pulled arrows from slung quivers and using the remaining tendons on their upper legs as bowstrings (real shoot from the hip guys ) and soon had the elementalist, cleric and rogue taking the undead more seriously. That wasnt the only surprise though, as the fight continued, with the heroes beginning to take down the skeletons, the sarcophagi opened again disgorged more skeletons into the fray.
Concerned that they could very easily be overrun, Rocky dove between his skeletal foes and sprinted into the end chamber, discovering it to have a pair of altars devoted to the Platinum Dragon. Rocky knelt quickly before one of the altars “Bahamut, I know we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we are your followers and here to fight against the forces of Orcus, please help us!” at this the skeletons stop fighting and return to their sarcophagi. As the rest of the party joined him in the Chapel area Rocky and Korinn marvel at the radiant ceiling fresco depicting Bahamut in his draconic form flying across clear skies. Shabba, having no reverence for any god, poked around and discovered a hidden compartment that contained 5 silver and platinum statuettes of Bahamut.
The double doors at the end of the chapel were also platinum and carved with another bas-relief of Bahamut as Korinn and Rocky put their hands on them, they push open easily revealing a chamber beyond. The place looks untouched and has a sense of peace. Its only contents being a large sarcophagi on a raised dais. As they approached they could see the lid was carved to show a warrior in plate armour, sword laid across his chest, point towards his feet. From the description that Sister Linora had given them they realised this was the resting place of Sir Keegan.
Eager to retrieve the paladins sword for the temple of Avandra back in Winterhaven, Rocky put his considerable weight into pushing the lid open. He’d barely touched it when the lid exploded, showering the goliath with rubble and dust. A skeletal figure in plate armour rose from the interior, gleaming longsword raised to strike. “The rift must remain sealed. State your business or prepare to die!” it spoke, its voice a deep whisper.
The heroes were quick to placate the warrior, who was indeed Sir Keegan. Assuring him that not only were two of them followers of the Platinum Dragon themselves but the whole party were working to halt the machinations of a Cult of Orcus operating in the area. Sir Keegan revealed that a rift to the Shadowfell existed deeper beneath the ruins, and that he and his knights had become undead after he went crazy and slaughtered his family following Orcus sent dreams. The heroes were happy to inform him that at least one of his family had survived and that his ancestor, Lord Padraig, was the current ruler of Winterhaven. He allowed the party to take his blade, Aecris, to aid them in closing the rift once and for all, “lest the forces of darkness flow forth and consume the world”.
The heroes asked if Sir Keegan could accompany them but sadly the knight informed them that should he leave his crypt the madness would once again take hold and he would slay all of them. The heroes decided to use the safety of Sir Keegan’s chamber to rest and recuperate before venturing forth once more.
A really great session, felt like a good old dungeon crawl complete with hand drawn maps on my dry-wipe mat and proof that the “5-minute-work-day” doesn’t have to be the norm. The players managed to work through 5 encounters (in 4 hours of gaming including a break for a run to the shops for refreshments) before they even suggested having a rest, and that was mainly because it felt like a good place to end the session. Some really fun interpretations of their characters abilities and role-playing made this one of my favourite sessions of 4e I’ve had the pleasure of running. If the rest of the campaign continues in this vein it shall be truly awesome.